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Railway of Bones
August 27, 2007 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Dead Road - Museum of Communism in the Open. "It was one of the most ambitious projects of the Stalin era, known as the 'railway of bones'. At least 10 people a day died during the four years of its construction [actually 1947-1953], but unlike most of Uncle Joe's grand designs it was never completed and now sits unfinished in the tundra, an icy road to nowhere." The transpolar railway was built by labour camps^ 501 and 503 and construction was stopped after the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953; 800km, about half, was built. Some sections are currently in operation, but much is abandoned: depot and locomotives in Dolgoe, Dolgoe itself, labour camps, more spectacular decay. (Previously: Norilsk, which was supposed to see an extension of the line.)
posted by parudox (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not surprised that there were uprisings. (There's more for those who speak Russian.)
posted by parudox at 11:37 PM on August 27, 2007


Interesting post, parudox. The photos of the depot and locomotives were especially interesting; that was awfully light-gauge rail, I suppose to get the job done. Any real heavy freight would need heavier stuff.
posted by maxwelton at 12:30 AM on August 28, 2007


Very interesting, thanks!
posted by amyms at 12:43 AM on August 28, 2007


Like maxwelton, I was struck at the light duty rail, and much of it's construction. I imagine it wouldn't have lasted long. Cool post, and neat photos.
posted by Eekacat at 12:43 AM on August 28, 2007


See also The Road of Bones, introduced to me by Long Way Round.
posted by Brittanie at 1:03 AM on August 28, 2007


Good job this kind of thing died out with the end of Communism.

Oh, wait...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:49 AM on August 28, 2007


I was struck at the light duty rail,

Stalin: Build me a railway from... [looks at map, points] here to... here.
Underling: We don't produce enough steel.
Stalin: What did you say?
Underling: Consider it a done deal.
posted by pracowity at 3:04 AM on August 28, 2007


Stalin: Build me a railway from... [looks at map, points] here to... here.

Uncle Joe: Get those traitors busy doing something.

Underling: How about a building a railroad?

Uncle Joe: Whatever. Just work them to death, or you'll be building it yourself.
posted by three blind mice at 4:04 AM on August 28, 2007


The first two photo links are down. Whoops. In the meantime, some random site has a copy of the first one.
posted by parudox at 6:02 AM on August 28, 2007


It looks like they just stopped in the middle of what they were doing and left. Considering the nature of the camps, they probably did exactly that. What great photos!
posted by tommasz at 6:17 AM on August 28, 2007


Another one of the links actually does have an English translation.
posted by parudox at 6:51 AM on August 28, 2007


Good job this kind of thing died out with the end of Communism.

Oh, wait...


Remind me...whats the equivalent of a Goodwin when it's a specious comparison to mass murdering Commies rather than mass murdering Nazis?
posted by kjs3 at 7:57 AM on August 28, 2007


I was struck at the light duty rail...

I think that was normal for the era though. A lot of the non-mainline track in western Canada was built with 100-pound (#100 per yard) rail or smaller, and we saw lots of that when I worked as a railroad surveyor in the mid-eighties.

Yes, the cost of steel had a lot to do with it, but rural sections of many railroads were maintained largely by hand (ie. without specialized power machines other than a tractor with a front-end loader) until the 1950's or 60's, and a length of #100 rail (39'?) is about the max that the regular section crews of three or four could handle.

Ditto the great photos. This would make a great bike path.
posted by sneebler at 12:50 PM on August 28, 2007


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